As the nation grapples with Wednesday’s mass shooting at a Florida high school that claimed the lives of 17 people, classmates of suspected gunman and former student Nikolas Cruz have revealed his disturbing history of abuse.
Before he walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with an AR-15 and opened fire on the students, teachers and faculty members inside, Cruz was allegedly abusive towards his ex-girlfriend. 17-year-old student Victoria Olvera told the Associated Press he was even expelled after fighting with the girl’s new boyfriend.
“I think everyone had in their minds if anybody was going to do it, it was going to be him,” she said.
In a press conference on Thursday, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel confirmed that the suspect had been expelled for unspecified “disciplinary reasons,” prompting his transfer to another school, but did not give details as to what the reasons were. Also following the tragedy, a math teacher at the school indicated that Cruz had gotten into trouble for threatening students and suggested the threats may have led to his expulsion.
“We were told last year that he wasn’t allowed on campus with a backpack on him,” he said at the time. “There were problems with him last year threatening students, and I guess he was asked to leave campus.”
In the wake of the shooting, several warning signs that Cruz may have been capable of mass violence have come to light. In addition to getting banned from campus, his former classmates revealed he had a history of making dark, gun-related jokes and suffered from “a lot of anger management issues.” He allegedly used to joke about shooting people and/or establishments and frequently bragged about having guns, fantasizing about using them in different scenarios. Additionally, other classmates recalled his posting on Instagram about killing animals and mentioning doing target practice in his backyard. The FBI was also warned six months ago that he planned on becoming a “professional school shooter,” according to reports.
Cruz was arrested on Wednesday and later charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. He is currently being held without bond.